Saturday, May 17, 2014

Best of the Blogosphere: 5/17/14 Edition

Every Saturday I feature a blog post in the following categories: Simple Living, Financial, DIY, Before & After, and Random. Here are this week's picks:

Best Simple Living: My solution to organizing my Twitter account is simply not having an account. But I do have to tweet for work, sadly, so I can't opt out all the time. This article from Unclutterer offers some helpful tips on organizing your Twitter feed.

Best Financial: Get Rich Slowly asked its readers what their most pressing financial issues are this year. The answers remind me that we are all working towards something, so not to stress too much that I'm not done with my current goal of fully-funding my emergency fund yet. I've come a long way from being massively in debt!

Best DIY: I love my pseudo-canopy in the bedroom, and here's a tutorial on how to do another version! Via Design Sponge.

Best Before & After: This is such a great house flip! Via Better After.

Best Random: It is time for us small-space dwellers to enter Apartment Therapy's Small Cool Contest. I might even do it this year. Who's with me?

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Kitchen Garden

As I mentioned in my last post, I'm moving my herb garden. My poor herbs weren't getting enough light in the wall garden, sadly. I was upset about it, of course, but sometimes experiments don't go as planned! I'm hopeful that my next idea will be more successful.

And on to the new idea! You'll notice that in this picture of my kitchen, you can see there is a window with no curtains.
Slightly outdated photo - the microwave is gone now!

I've been debating for a while on what I should do with the window. At first I thought I would buy a curtain to match the kitchen color scheme. I even had my dad hang the curtain rod when I moved in, just in case I wanted to get a curtain. It's been well over a year since he did that and still no curtain. As these things normally go, an idea struck me as I was browsing various DIY and design websites: create a hanging window garden using rods and attachable hanging pots!
Via RyE McE on Pinterest
What a fantastic idea, and it seems pretty straightforward as well! All I need to do is get the right equipment and hang another rod or two across the window. I think this will work because I don't close the blinds, so they can remain open and allow sun to hit the herbs full-on for a good 6-7 hours a day. Plus, the blinds are hidden away by the window sill, meaning they won't get in the way of hanging anything across the framing. This window also does not serve as any sort of fire escape, so I'm not violating code by hang a few bars over it. The windows in the next room function the same way and if push comes to shove I could crawl out those (wow, let's hope I never have to do that!).

Here's some of the equipment that can make this happen, all part of the Fintorp series at Ikea.

I'm planning an Ikea trip this weekend, so I could possibly have this done in a week's time! My one concern is that the bars won't be long enough to stretch across my window. I'll have to take measurements. But even if they don't work, I like this idea enough that I'll find a way to make it work! Wish me luck!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Sprucing Up for Spring!

Spring fever has hit! That means it is time for some sprucing up around the apartment. A perfect place to do this is my small dining room table. You might recall that around Christmas it looked like this:

Then after the holidays it looked like this:

The bland browns of the corks and pine cones are a tad too depressing for spring, so on a recent trip to the farmer's market, I bought some beautiful flowers and rearranged the whole ensemble:

I love the flowers, which are called "bachelor's buttons" (I think!). I was quite satisfied with this arrangement and had no plans to change anything. As luck would have it, though, I went on a fun outing last weekend to an art studio. It is the kind of place open to the public, where you paint whatever you want on a small canvas while enjoying music, friends, and some adult beverages. I created a work that turned out decent, and when I finished it I thought that it might go really well sitting next to the flowers. I was right!

Can you spot the other tiny change in this picture? See it? The frame on the wall has moved to the right!

Yep, I decided to remove my wall herb garden (sad face) because the plants weren't getting enough light. Don't worry, I have plans for a future herb garden! Stay tuned for more on that in the coming weeks.

As you can see, I moved the door series frame to the right and now there is a ton of space (and some nails) above the table. I'm thinking of getting some sort of lamp to hang there, but I'm open to other suggestions!

After a pretty long winter, I'm so happy to be bringing in some spring to my place!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Homemade Products: Shampoo & Conditioner

Last fall I decided to try making deodorant. Over the past year, I've been reading up on all the chemicals that enter my body, either topically or via ingesting food, and have decided it is worth it to try and "go natural" in as many ways as I can. My first real foray was deodorant. I was scared at first, but now I am so happy I made the effort. The deodorant works great and has lasted quite a while, too. I estimate I'll have to make a batch of it every 10-12 months or so. Whether this averages out to be more cost effective in the long run, I don't know. What I do know is that I'm not wasting the packaging of store-bought deodorant, nor am I putting crazy chemicals whose names I can't even pronounce in my body. All good things!

Since the homemade deodorant experiment went well, I was ready to give the homemade thing another shot. This time I've tackled my hair products. First up, shampoo and conditioner.

First the shampoo. Here is the recipe, which I got from my cousin:
4/5 coconut milk
1/5 castille soap
Shake together in a reusable bottle. THAT IS ALL. Super-simple.

All mixed together!

Next the conditioner, which is actually a conditioning rinse.
2 cups water or cooled tea (tea optional)
3 tblsp. raw apple cider vinegar (Bragg's)
A few drops of essential oil (optional)

If you are using the tea option, which I did, then boil the 2 cups water and let it steep for 20 minutes with 2 black tea bags and 2 rooibos bags. 

I have dark hair, so the rooibos tea will give it a red tint, apparently. If you have light hair, go with a chamomile tea. I ended up making a double batch so that I would enough to last me a while.

After letting it steep and cool, I poured it into the empty bottle and that was it! Easy!

I've used this shampoo and conditioner for the last few days, and there is definitely a difference. My hair appears to be a bit greasier as well as a tad lighter. I'm going to give it time and let my hair adjust to the new routine.

Next, I'll try making a conditioning treatment (a must for anyone in a four-season climate) and styling gel. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Closet Craft Project

Remember a few weeks ago I talked about decorating this little white set of drawers in my closet?

Well, I did!

I decided on this print:
Chasing Paper

Here is how I did it. These were the drawers at the beginning:

First, I had to wash them. This took forever. I have come to really despise labels. After a solid hour of elbow grease, I finally had a clean surface to work with:
Next, I took measurements of the surfaces I wanted to cover and began tracing the patterns on the back of the wallpaper:
Then I carefully cut out each piece. Here are the front and top pieces:
After that part was done, I adhered the wallpaper to the surface of the drawers. This took a while as I had to make sure I got out all the air bubbles that accumulated between the wallpaper and the surface. But it was worth it! Here is the finished product:

And now, in its spot in the closet:


Much improved!

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Best of the Blogosphere: 5/3/14 Edition

Every Saturday I feature a blog post in the following categories: Simple Living, Financial, DIY, Before & After, and Random. Here are this week's picks:

Best Simple Living:

Best Financial: I am happy to see a post about income inequality that isn't full of anger, frustration, and political vitriol. Instead, this article says "Outrage doesn't put food on the table, though. A more sensible option is to do something." Via Get Rich Slowly.

Best DIY:  I've been investigating making my kitchen window area into a pseudo-garden. This Ikea Hack is a great source of inspiration!

Best Before & After: An odd-shaped room turned into a beautiful closet. Via Apartment Therapy.

Best Random: Who knew some companies had grants for home-buying if you leave near where you work?! Check out Johns Hopkins' program.